• disembarrass •
di-sim-bær-ræs • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb
Meaning: To relieve, rid of, to free from something, especially if bothersome or annoying.
Notes: Today's Good Word has rambled a bit away from its semantic course to broaden its meaning. It now not only means "relieve embarrassment" but refers to relief of anything, most often something bothersome. The noun is disembarrassment.
In Play: This word means "get rid of" anything: "Horace entered the room and immediately disembarrassed himself of his cloak to the nearest chair." That includes people: "Siddy Hall, once elected, disembarrassed herself of all those who helped her reach her position."
Word History: Today's Good Word obviously comprises the prefix dis- "not, without" + embarrass. Embarrass was picked up from French embarrasser "to impede, encumber; to embarrass", which French created by combining an assimilated form of en "in(to)" + Vulgar (Street) Latin barra "bar, hindrance". Some etymologists think this word was borrowed from Gaulish barrow "the bushy end of things", but the sense of this word makes it an unlikely source. The sense suggests more a Greek borrowing and a PIE source, gwere-/gwore- "heavy", the source of Greek baros "weight" and barys "heavy", Sanskrit guguh "heavy", Latin gravis "heavy, burdensome", Latvian grūts "heavy", maybe even German Krieg "war". This origin would explain Spanish embarazada "pregnant" in the same sense as English 'heavy with child'. (We're not disembarrassed of our obligation to thank Dan Obertance for catching the meandering sense of today's Good Word and sharing it with us.)
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